Hong Kong needs more mental health professionals to help those in need

Hong Kong needs more mental health professionals to help those in need

A shortage of mental health professionals means young people who have to use public clinics are left without support

Students with mental health problems have to wait almost 60 per cent longer for treatment at public clinics than they would have two years ago, it has been revealed.

The median wait went from 8.5 months in 2013-2014 to 14.5 months in 2015-2016, according to the latest Hospital Authority data.

The 59 per cent increase in waiting time coincided with a rise in the number of children getting treatment, which is up 15 per cent from two years ago to 27,740.

Dr Chan Chung-Mau, psychiatrist and convenor of Hong Kong Mental Health Council, has called for more professionals to help those with mental issues in Hong Kong. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, there should be one psychiatrist for every 10,000 people in a city.

More young Hongkongers seek help for mental health problems

In Hong Kong, however, there are fewer than 400 psychiatrists serving 7 million people – that’s only one doctor for every 17,500 people.

“The number of psychiatrists in Hong Kong is falling far behind the guideline issued by WHO,” Chan said.

When dealing with mental issues, Chan said it is also important to consider peripheral support – for example, social workers and nurses.

Mental issues such as depression needs to be treated early. Otherwise, it could pose a risk to patients, Chan added.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
At risk students must wait a year for help


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